ODM U-21 Inter-Town: A run-down of the Discovery Cup’s biggest revelations

From L-R: Diaz of Pres. Roxas, Bula of Panitan, and Garcia of Sapian (Esniper sang Capiz via Jeremiah Obera)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Province of Capiz, you have a bright future in the sport of basketball.

After having the chance to grace the opening of the biggest Under-21 Inter-Town hoops league in the Province last February 5, 2023, organized by On D’ Move (ODM) Sports League and commissioner Jeremiah Obera, several young stars caught our attention and will surely carry the banner of Capiz after three to five years.

With their unique skill set at such a very young age, these future basketball superstars are just making a name for themselves and the ODM Discovery Cup is there to become the avenue for these ballers to showcase more of what they can bring to the table.

After spending the whole day watching all of the games while scouting for prospects, these names caught my attention: Lawrence Barrios, Shaun Bula, Shamlloyd Garcia, John Reed Diaz, John Ubas, and Jimboy Esquida.

Barrios is hailing from the municipality of Pontevedra and immediately wowed the crowd with his sweet-shooting and soft touch underneath the basket.

Standing at six-foot-two, Barrios is a modern big man who can knock down shots from the three-point line and perimeter and can also impose his will in the paint with his various post-up moves.

Barrios made several highlights during the first scheduled game of the tournament and proved that he can become a top prospect for some of the big schools all around Western Visayas.

Moving on, a crafty point guard who can play as a floor general also made our list. Bula, a smart ball-handler from the municipality of Panitan, turned heads during the second to the last game of the opening day when he flirted with 20 points, five assists, and four rebounds against Ivisan.

Despite his size, Bula stood tall amongst giants and out-maneuvered the opposing team’s defense with his signature floater shot at the top of the key.

Aside from his polished offensive game, Bula also set his teammates up to get buckets and was the biggest factor during their first win of the tournament.

Garcia will also have to be on the list. A hybrid of a guard and a forward from the municipality of Sapian, the two-way player can do it all and can deliver big-time baskets when his team needed him the most.

Aside from his offensive prowess, Garcia can also man the paint, proof is his 14-rebound performance against President Roxas including 25 points and five big blocks.

The Sapian native can slash, draw fouls, and can hit the open perimeter jump shot. This guy will become a problem for the seniors in the future for sure.

Diaz from the municipality of President Roxas also became my choice after leading his team to an 87-70 victory against Dumalag.

A tall youngster with a unique body type, Diaz showed he can dominate in the paint while also anchoring President Roxas’ frontcourt.

His five blocks against Dumalag prevented 10 easy points and became the biggest story of the game last week.

Although this guy was already seen playing for the seniors’ team of Ivisan during the ODM Monster Division, we can’t deny that Ubas is one of the most talented players in the Discovery Cup.

His game is built differently. Ubas can create shots on his own and is also one of the best finishers in the fast break.

Ubas also showed he can play under pressure after getting into foul trouble in his games. Despite the pressure, the Ivisan super scorer knew when to pick his spots and preserve his remaining fouls in the most crucial stretch.

Last but not the least, Mambusao’s Esquida. A five-foot-eleven power forward who can spot-up from the perimeter, this kid is the real deal at the age of 17 years old.

Not only he can produce for his team in pressure-packed situations, but Esquida also possesses an advanced level of ball handling that can relieve some of the duties of their point guard.

Esquida moves smoothly and can also be compared to Barrios who is also playing a stretch-five role for Pontevedra.

With one more month of action-packed hoops in the ongoing ODM Discovery Cup, I’m sure that plenty of players will still receive the recognition they deserve.

Capiz, it’s your time to shine. The future is waiting for you.